Spain’s Repsol on verge of exiting Greek upstream market

Spanish petroleum firm Repsol, a member of consortiums holding licenses to three fields in Greece, is on the verge of leaving the country’s upstream market as a part of a wider strategic adjustment prompted by the oil crisis and the pandemic, developments that have impacted exploration plans, as well as a company plan to reduce its environmental footprint, sources have informed.

The upstream industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, which has driven down prices and demand. The EU’s climate-change policies are another key factor behind Repsol’s decision.

Repsol is believed to have decided to significantly reduce the number of countries in which it is currently present for hydrocarbon exploration and production, the intention being to limit operations to the more lucrative of fields.

All three fields in Repsol’s Greek portfolio are still at preliminary research stages and do not offer any production assurances, meaning they will most probably be among the first to be scrapped by the company from its list of projects.

Respol formed a partnership with Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) for offshore exploration in the Ionian Sea. Repsol is the operator in this arrangement. A license secured by the two partners for this region in 2018 was approved in Greek Parliament a year later.

Also, in 2017, Repsol agreed to enter a partnership with Energean Oil & Gas, acquiring 60 percent stakes, and the operator’s role, for onshore blocks in Ioannina and Etoloakarnania, northwestern Greece.

Repsol maintains interests in over 40 countries, producing approximately 700,000 barrels per day.

Upstream projects awaiting Greek State reassurances

Local and foreign upstream companies holding exploration and production licenses for hydrocarbon reserves on Greek territory, offshore and onshore, are awaiting Greek State reassurances for their ventures following a cabinet reshuffle that has resulted in a change of leadership at the energy ministry, bringing in Kostas Skrekas in place of Costis Hatzidakis.

Oil companies, delaying investment plans as a result of the pandemic and lower oil prices, are waiting for a vote of confidence from the Greek State, market sources insist.

The fall in oil prices, currently at levels of about 50 dollar a barrel, may have halted upstream investments internationally, but, nevertheless, this is a good time for resolving bureaucratic obstacles and preparing local communities for prospective exploration efforts that promise to contribute to job creation and economic recovery.

Four upstream investment plans are currently either at an advanced stage in terms of prospective drilling or at preliminary exploration stages.

Of all four plans, Energean’s license for Katakolo, western Greece, is at the most mature stage. Public consultation on an environmental impact study concerning this project’s drilling requirements was completed in December, 2019. The regional authority for western Greece has offered its approval. Even so, a year later, the energy ministry has yet to deliver its decision on the environmental study.

A license for the Gulf of Patras field, held by Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and Edison, is also at a mature stage. The partners requested, and were granted, an extension for the start of drilling at this field. EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, granted the pair a further 15 months, until January 23, 2023, to facilitate their preparations.

Sources have attributed this additional time to a lack of appropriate regional port facilities, needed to facilitate the installation of equipment required for drilling. ELPE and Edison had previously been given another extension, until October, 2021.

On another front, a partnership comprising Repsol and Energean has until April to start a second stage of exploration activities at its Ioannina block in northwestern Greece. Local community approval is needed. The government needs to take action on the issue.

A fourth upstream project carrying geopolitical weight concerns licenses held by a consortium made up of Total, ExxonMobil and ELPE for offshore fields west and southwest of Crete. Though company representatives recently informed Crete’s regional authorities that seismic surveys are planned to begin towards spring, there have been no further updates or any signs of action.

Repsol given 6-month extension for Ioannina license preliminary work

A pandemic-related extension request made by Spain’s Repsol for an additional six-month period to complete preliminary research concerning a license in Ioannina, northwestern Greece, has been granted by EDEY, Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, in a decision reached last week that resets the deadline for April 2, 2021.

Repsol, operator of a consortium formed with Energean Oil & Gas for the Ioannina license, had lodged its extension request late in August.

Repsol’s preliminary research work at the Ioannina license was initially expected to be completed by early October ahead of a decision on whether it would proceed with drilling.

The pandemic has severely impacted the upstream industry worldwide. Multinationals engaged in hydrocarbon research and production activities have severely limited their investment plans as a result of the pandemic’s impact on petroleum markets.

A rebound for the upstream sector appears highly unlikely any time soon given the rising second wave of coronavirus cases.

The EDEY extension will enable Repsol to conduct a more thorough analysis of seismic data collected and enable the company to hold on for the prospect of improved upstream industry conditions.

EDEY justified its extension by noting it will help the investors complete their assessment of technical work conducted during the preliminary stage.

 

 

Repsol-Energean given extra year for Ioannina license preliminary stage

A consortium comprising Repsol and Energean Oil & Gas has been granted a one-year extension by EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, to complete preliminary exploration work at an onshore license in the wider region of Ioannina, northwestern Greece.

Repsol, controlling a 60 percent stake in the consortium, and Energean, holding 40 percent stake, requested an additional year until October 2, 2020, to complete preliminary exploration work at the license.

This is the second deadline extension granted to Repsol-Energean for the license’s preliminary phase. A first extension, granted in 2017, expires next month. The consortium is currently processing new seismic data.

The EDEY extension decision also requires the consortium to complete a second exploration phase, involving deep drilling, by October 2, 2022, should the partners decide to pursue the license further.

The license location’s geological features, featuring rocky terrain, are considered challenging. Also, the two companies have faced resistance, at times extreme, from small groups representing local communities while conducting their seismic research and related activities. The support of local landowners exceeds 90 percent, which has enabled the completion of research work in recent weeks.

Repsol forced to up budget for Ioannina license seismic survey work

Spanish energy company Repsol, the operator of a 60 percent stake in an onshore block in the Ioannina area, northwestern Greece, farmed out by Energean Oil & Gas, has been forced to revise upwards the project’s budget as a result of increased costs concerning 2D seismic survey work, made more challenging by the region’s landscape features.

Repsol, which has also had to deal with bureaucratic delays, has resumed hydrocarbon exploration work at the Ioannina license following a summer break.

Project costs have risen significantly for Repsol as a result of the company’s need to use specialized equipment, including helicopters, to minimalize the effort’s environmental impact and guarantee the safety of workers. Labor costs have also risen by the need for Repsol to employ more workers. They have ranged between 120 and 200 per day.

Greek energy ministry officials who are well informed on the effort believe further cost increases will be difficult to avoid, given the Ioannina project’s nature. Energean Oil & Gas has retained a 40 percent stake in the venture.

The seismic survey work being conducted in the Ioannina area represents the first such initiative taken in western Greece, onshore, over the past two decades. Lines totaling 400 km and covering seven municipalities are being explored.